A Brief DC Shoes History – 90s
In the early 90s a small group of likeminded friends were trying to come up with potential names to coin their latest creation of t shirts and footwear. Boarding enthusiasts including Ken Block, Damon Way, his brother Danny and founder of Plan B skateboards Mike Ternasky embarked on setting up a fresh new snowboarding brand. Inspired by the original name of Droors Clothing Shoes, the team soon shortened the title to DC Shoes.
After experimenting with various constructions using manufacturing trials, the water was not only tested within snowboarding but skateboarding too, prompting the release of the Danny Way signature model and DC Shoes first ever skate advert in February 1995.
Adding to the DC Skateboard faction were talented skaters Rob Dyrdek and Rudy Johnson but it wasn’t all strictly skateboarding. DC Shoes had their fingers in many board sport pies. The team continued to develop products for snowboarders, and later established a DC Motocross team as well as a DC Surfing team. Although plans were made to evolve the DC brand, various members of the collective still held responsibilities within similar independent businesses, yet in time names such as Dub, Droors, Diaxis and Circus Distribution were all dropped, allowing every determined participant to fully commit to the development DC Shoes.
DC Shoes Early Footwear Models & Growth Within Sports
Due to the teams personal know-how and their aspirations to improve existing equipment they tailored their energy towards producing footwear which would better accommodate their passions. From flexibility, breath-ability and comfort to efforts improving resistance, robustness and durability. Throughout the teams early years no matter what sector the footwear fell under they looked to bring highly advanced shoe technology to offer people the ride of their lives.
The introduction of the PAL AB2000 saw a revolutionary hybrid of polyurethane-coated leather that flexed like leather but was durable like rubber. Filling advertising spaces in magazines such as TransWorld Snow, Blunt and Snowboarder, the DC Snowboard team now acclaimed a foot hold in the industry releasing their first ever DC snow boot range featuring the Serum, the Cortex and the Lupine.
DC Shoes also patented an air bladder system that fitted into their snowboard boots which helped eliminate heel lift and increased comfort. A silicone gel ‘toe jam’ and Heat Factor foot warmers were also applied to a selection of snowboard boots. Although DC Shoes were trying to make major strides within advanced performance footwear, they also had eyes on smaller targets, and at the end of the 90s DC Shoes started tailoring footwear specifically for children with the launch of the DC Shoes children range.
DC Shoes Evolution In The 2000s
Even though DC Shoes were happily evolving their snowboarding selection, more and more skateboarders were joining their skate team, and more often than not soon after signing to DC they’d release their very own signature shoe; an early example of this being the Steve Williams pro model 2000 which was shortly launched after he penned a deal with the team.
DC also added another extreme sport to the mix with the DC BMX team being set up in the early 2000’s consisting of Jerry Bagley, Robbie Morales, Robbie Miranda, Neal Wood, Chris Doyle, Chad Kagy and Colin Winkelmann. The DC team now sponsored skateboard, motocross, surfing and BMX teams, and they continued to create limited edition shoes. In 2001 the team produced two million pairs of shoes, mostly all catered towards skateboarding.
With a loyal audience growing and accolades being gained within professional arenas other companies caught wind of DC’s success with Billabong International attempting to buy the company out. However Billabong’s move fell short of the mark, only prompting DC to create their first skateboarders’ outerwear range in the same year.
DC Shoes bond with skateboarding was and still is probably their biggest feat, in 2003 this connection was strengthened with the Dyrdek DC Shoes Foundation helping to fund the first skate plaza, a skate park which featured railings and benches in Kettering, Ohio.
DC Shoes also sought to get media and entertainment underway with a highly anticipated DC Video hitting the shelves. This offered fans of skateboarding the chance to see the professional DC skate team ripping it up. DC Fallen shoes were also revealed to impress hardcore skaters who needed some shoes to combat consistent skating.
2004 saw DC Shoes return to the slopes with a view to improve snowboarding products using the newly opened DC Mountain Lab. This elaborate design lab saw efforts to bring new technology to snowboard apparel.
For snowboarders who found it tricky and long-winded to climb up endless mountains to quench their thirst the DC snowboard team hooked up with Yamaha to develop the DC/Yamaha SXViper Mountain snowmobile. This enabled boarders to drive up to impressive peaks hoping to endure bigger and better drops without the need to walk. It also helped DC build a relationship with a global company revolved around vehicles, engines and power.
Quiksilver, Summer X Games & Mid Naughties
Unlike the trouble with Billabong at the break of the century DC found themselves partnering up with Quiksilver who purchased DC in May 2004. The attraction of DC’s $150 million sales in wholesale saw DC Shoes welcomed into the Quiksilver family. DC Shoes phenomenal selling rate saw them become the only action sports label with sales exceeding the $1 billion mark.
The Summer X Games saw extreme sports become a much bigger spectacle especially when Danny Way earned himself a gold medal in a Big Air competition. Danny Way gained the highest air and longest jump stretching over a gap of 79 feet. With 16 DC athletes competing in 11 different events the team brought home 14 medals which only further reinforced DC’s reputation as one of the best brands and families within extreme sports. It wasn’t only the achievement of DC athletes which gave the collective more to shout about. In every final medal position within Skateboarding, BMX and Moto competitions the DC brand was endorsed by more medalists than any other footwear label.
DC skating continued populating its skate team as well as pushing the brand as a product, with the likes of amateur Devine Calloway entering the domain and Darrell Stanton becoming the first professional to join the skate team in six years. Andy Howell’s shoe was also flung into the equation becoming a popular model which was highly anticipated by expecting fans.
2004 was also a year for the girls to flourish not only the boys. The DC Shoes girls line increased their presence when DC brought on female skateboarder and X Games winner Lyn-z Adams Hawkins. The inclusion of Lyn-z was big news in the world of skateboarding as she became the first ever female skateboarder to ride for the brand. Meanwhile in the Mountain Lab Chris Gunny Gunnarson was hired to help build and launch a snow terrain park before the first snowfall in October 2004.
2005 saw the release of the Michael Leon shoe to retail as well as the announcement of a new sport category DC Rally. DC sponsored the Gumball 3000 Rally just as Danny Way was named ‘Skateboarder of the Year’ in Thrasher Magazine.
The grand opening of the Rob Dydrek and DC Shoes Skate Plaza foundation saw RedBull Hammers compete against Bangers, with Chris Cole picking up a $10, 000 prize. Danny Way continued being somewhat of a pin up boy for DC as he successfully jumps the Great Wall of China catapulting himself and the brand into a wider world of admirers.
DC Shoes continued to be represented by DC athletes in the Summer X Games, with names competing in 12 different competitions, winning 14 medals, and again being the most prominent footwear brand for medalists to wear.
DC also began to show signs that they wanted to involve more creativity in terms of their designs and this saw the birth of the artistic range with projects including Russian artist Ruslan Karablin on the SSUR shoe and former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker on the Remix Trainers. Much like the first skateboarding video DC also premiered their first ever snowboarding DVD at the Egyptian Theatre in Salt Lake City and at the House of Blues event during a pinnacle trade show.
New Era For DC Shoes
2006 saw more additions to the professional BMX team with Edwin Delarosa joining ranks as the only street rider for the DC BMX team. Meanwhile on water, Ry Craike became the first Australian surfer to enter the DC Surf group. DC’s merchandise and products also saw a boost with its first flagship store opening in the SoHo District of New York.
Danny Way carried on breaking new world records with an impressive 28 foot bomb drop off the huge Stratocaster Guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. DC’s team continued to pick up medals at the next X Games in L.A, California, with 13 athletes taking home 13 medals between them – seven gold, four silver and two bronze. DC also paired up with Arkitip and Michael Leon to create another model showcased within the DC Artist range.
Off the back off successful gumball rally competitions, 2007 saw DC release their first rally driving shoe with the Pro Spec 1.0 hitting the market. Around the same time the brand were also preparing a fresh new line of Snowboards for the 2008/2009 season.
Although DC Shoes were continuing to plan, develop and produce products for niche areas within their created extreme sport subgenres it was the Life Collection by DC that really welcomed a newer and more broader audience. The Life Collection saw the DC brand hit retail boutiques across the globe including a full line of fashion, art and music inspired footwear. This more fashionable scope helped the brand mold a relationship with people who never picked up a board but who simply enjoyed the image. This broader vision was aided even more when DC opened up its second and third flagship stores in Park City, Utah and busy shopping street Melrose in Los Angeles.
The fresh scope for fashion was reflected within the decision to release a second edition of the SSUR as part of the Artist Projects; this collaboration featured shoes, a sweatshirt, denims and a fitted New Era cap. DC also hooked up with JB Classics for a DC Double Label Project which saw both company’s combine their ideas and strengths to create the DC and JB Classic shoes, fleece and further New Era caps. Ryan Gallant also launched his first DC Professional model shoe, the Gallant which made its way to retail worldwide.
As well as expanding products the DC skate team was really hitting off, penning a deal with one of the worlds most exciting skateboarding talents PJ Ladd. To consolidate the impact DC also gave birth to dcskateboarding.tv, a website solely concentrating on skateboarding using blogs, exclusive photography, video snippets and team information to let people follow any updates and developments on the brand.
DC Shoes Current Climate
It is partly down to the early hard work and practical approach which has made DC blossom into such a well received brand. Over the years they’ve set a quality benchmark to improve performance and reliability whether its with their clothing or famous footwear. It is not only active people and sporting talents that indulge in this brand, they’re now just as much a fashion brand as they are a sporting brand for functional purposes.
A boom in interests towards extreme sports in the early 2000’s helped extreme sport brands capture a contemporary audience. Enthralled by the lifestyle not just the activities, snowboard and skateboard fashion became the ‘in thing’ for many cities worldwide. This saw a change from wanting to release models strictly for performance benefits to something with a wider aesthetic appeal.
DC Shoes are now adopted by people who don’t necessarily skate, surf or snowboard. In some circumstances the complete image of their shoes have changed, from what was once notoriously bulky for battling the curbs or vert ramps, to now the availability of streamline models for the more fashion savvy crowds. Merchandise has grown from strictly performance orientated gear such as skate trucks, wheels and skateboard DVDs to clothing accessories such as belts, beanies and purses.
There was a time where wearing the DC Shoes brand meant that you had to be a surfer, skateboarder or snowboarder, but now it’s accepted as a way to express your fashionable style rather than your dedication towards board sports. The brands teams have still retained a stronghold within professional sport competitions and events, with skate, snow and motors all covered heavily as DC Shoes specialist subjects.
Yet when you step away from the ramps, slopes and race tracks you can now see the burning influence of DC Shoes inside night clubs, outside super markets and even on the feet of Robert Patterson and Brooklyn Beckham. With its roots still firmly attached to the board the brand’s style is now amplified across many sections of society.
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